Although many of us use herbs to enhance flavors, using herbs as the star instead of expensive meats will save you money big time. (Recipes below.) Especially if you grow the herbs yourself! Below I’ll show you the basics of growing herbs.
A while back Bargain Babe started a recession garden with herb plants she bought at a hardware supply store. I suggest you start with seeds to save even more money. You don’t need a lot of space, but you will need to know this:
- Pots must have drainage holes.
- You can use milk cartons, yoghurt cups and buckets, as long as you make holes in the bottom.
- The pots should be no smaller than 6 inches in diameter for individual herbs.
- To grow three herbs together, the pot should be about 10 inches in diameter and about 8 inches deep.
- A southwestern-facing window is a must.
- Artificial light will do if natural is not available. If needed, place lamps with compact florescent lights four to six inches away from the plants.
- Potting soil with good drainage is a must. You can buy some at gardening stores or hardware supply stores.
- Add egg shells for added nutrients. Make sure you clean the egg shells beforehand!
Now that you know the basics, here are some herbs to include in your next meal and tips to reap a bounty.
Perennials (bloom each season once they’re established)
- Mint – This plant is very invasive, so it needs its own pot. If you grow it outside keep an eye on it as its underground roots will spread throughout your garden.
- Thyme – It will likely need supplemental light. Lemon thyme, which is hard to find in grocer stores, is tasty.
- Chives – Doesn’t require a lot of sun.
Annuals (bloom one season and die)
- Basil – This is a tough one to grow as grasshoppers enjoy eating it. It’s best to grow basil in warm weather.
- Cilantro – It often bolts, meaning it grows flowers and seeds instead of leaves. If this happens save the seeds and try again. You can also use coriander (cilantro seeds) in this easy turkey chili recipe.
- Dill – Likes full sun and doesn’t transplant well. It will self-sow if seedpods are not harvested.
Biennials (live two seasons, bloom only the second season)
- Parsley – It’s a slow grower and may not yield a lot so add several seeds (I usually try 5 seeds). Parsley doesn’t need so much sun and will thrive on a windowsill.
- Oregano – Needs a lot of light so try to grow it outside.
- Rosemary – It needs a very sunny window and probably supplemental light. It’s also very sensitive to over watering, once established.
- Sage – Very sensitive to over watering.
My favorite food columnist, Mark Bittman, shared tasty recipes with inexpensive herbs on the Today Show that you can use for inspiration. He warned to use rosemary, thyme, and tarragon sparingly because of their strong flavor.
If you end up snipping more than you’d like to use, do not worry. There are several ways to preserve herbs for later use like drying them. What herbs do you grow at home? What are your tricks to keeping them alive?